Harm Reduction

Reduce risk, save lives.

Strategies to Reduce Risk and Save Lives!

Harm reduction is a set of public health principles that give respect and rights to people who use drugs. These include:

Seeking to minimize the harmful effects of drugs rather than ignore or condemn people who use.

  • Understanding that drug use is a complex phenomenon that ranges from frequent use to total abstinence.
  • Calling for judgment-free, voluntary, and accessible resources for people who use drugs.
  • Meeting people where they’re at by recognizing that people who use drugs are autonomous individuals with different needs.
  • Being honest about the risks of drug use.

There are lots of resources in Arizona to help keep people who use drugs safe during use. See below for helpful harm reduction resources:


Naloxone is a prescription medicine that reverses opioid overdoses. It temporarily blocks the effect of opioids and helps a person to start breathing again. You should always have naloxone on hand when using drugs.

Things to know about naloxone:

  • Only works for someone on opioids
  • Safe and easy to use
  • Takes 2–5 minutes to take effect
  • Can be sprayed into someone’s nose, or injected into their muscle
  • May require more than one dose
  • Stays in the body for 30–90 minutes
  • May cause withdrawal (e.g., chills, nausea, vomiting, agitation, muscle aches)

Although naloxone is a prescription medication, it is available to all Arizonans through a statewide standing order. A standing order allows you to get naloxone from pharmacies  without a prescription. You can also request to have Naloxone mailed to you.

Learn how to recognize an opioid overdose and use naloxone.


You can get exposed to HIV and hep C by sharing syringes and other drug equipment. If you inject drugs, you should use sterile equipment every time you use. You can get sterile syringes from sites called Syringe Service Programs (SSPs), which are also called Needle Exchanges.

SSPs are community-based public health programs that collect used and potentially contaminated syringes from people who inject drugs, and exchange them for sterile syringes. Many SSPs can link you to other social services as well, including:

  • Screening, care, and treatment for viral hepatitis and HIV.
  • Education about overdose prevention and safer injection practices.
  • Vaccinations, including those for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
  • Screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Abscess and wound care.
  • Naloxone distribution and education.
  • Referral to social, mental health, and other medical services.

Click here for a list of Arizona-based SSP’s.




  • Sonoran Prevention Works (SPW) is a grassroots group working to reduce vulnerabilities faced by individuals and communities impacted by drug use in Arizona.
  • Southwest Recovery Alliance (SWRA)’s mission is to center harm reduction in Arizona through participant driven advocacy, education and outreach.
  • Shot in the Dark (SITD) provides access to a variety of harm reduction resources to people who use drugs in Maricopa County, including: clean syringes, syringe disposal, Naloxone, educational resources, treatment referrals and much more.

Harm reduction aims to reduce the negative health and social consequences associated with drug use.



AZ 2022-2026 HIV/STI/HEP C Integrated Plan